I have described the past few years as a “Presales Renaissance”, characterized by a blossoming of presales practices, development of a focused community, implementation of process and playbooks, application of methodologies, and the appearance of tools specifically architected for presales staff, leadership, and enablement. As these tools are implemented and adopted into production use, we are moving into an Age of Presales Enlightenment, where decisions are based on real data.
The historic Age of Enlightenment included “the pursuit of knowledge obtained by means of reason and the evidence of the senses” (Wikipedia). We are experiencing this, or perhaps more accurately, we are now able to experience this through the rather dramatic improvements in access to data and visualization of information that tools like Hub, Vivun, Homerun, Cuvama, Prelio (and others) enable.
Previously, when I would do discovery with presales management prospects, I would ask questions about “How many?” “How often?” and “Your success rates?”, the answers were often along the lines of, “I wish I knew…!” Now, more and more presales managers reply happily and excitedly with specific numbers reflecting KPIs they are tracking. Clearly, it is a delight to have hard data to work with, versus opinions that may have questionable basis.
We can now test old assumptions. We can experiment with new practices and processes. Practices formerly identified as “best” may no longer keep that claim – which begs the question, what do you call a practice that is better than the previous “best”? (Warning: I will reach out and smack you if you say, “Bestest”!)
Importantly, presales tools support and enable implementation and adoption of presales methodologies. These can and should include discovery methodology and demo methodology, as well as methodologies for solutioning, managing POCs and POVs, RFP responses, and others. Methodologies in concert with tools enables leveraging, amplifying, and scaling presales tasks and activities to achieve efficiencies and, hopefully, substantial productivity gains.
In an early application of tools and methodology, the Gong studies a few years ago specifically validated key elements of Great Demo! methodology, through analysis of thousands of data points. For example, “Do the Last Thing First”, “Inverted Pyramid”, and “Peeling Back the Layers” were identified as key success factors. These findings came from data, not opinions.
Tools provide means to track progress, experiment, tune, and improve playbooks and processes. And, of course, we should keep sight of our ultimate objective, that intelligent thoughtful application should also yield delighted customers who renew and expand.
And: be curious, and cautious, of the inevitable impending Presales Industrial Revolution. In presales, it is likely our brains that are our most important asset. When should we provide prospects with “live” resources versus digital mimics? For what situations is mass-delivered, non-instructor-led-training effective – or not? Can a simulation replace – or be better than – a human coach? Will digital experiences surpass human mentors?
I’m intrigued! And I’ll guess that a Pareto function will be in play to answer these last few questions. I am eager to see the new presales-specific tools implemented. I am excited about the prospect of new learnings. And so for now, let us Sapere aude (dare to know)!